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Old September 8, 2019, 11:13 PM   #1
dyl
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Help with Hornady Cam-lock bullet puller collet?

Hey all,

Having a heck of a time with a Hornady Cam-lock bullet puller collet. I'm a new user of it. The die is new, on an RCBS Rockchucker. The 9mm collet was purchased "used like new" off of amazon quite a while ago. I didn't try it until now so unfortunately I can't return it.

The problem: It will pull bullets, it just won't let them go. There is a point where I can feel the collet pinching on the bullet near the case mouth but it slips on past as I lower the ram. And then if I tighten the lever/handle any more, it will pinch it and pull the 9mm bullet, but it pinches it so hard that it won't let it go and there are visible indentations in the bullet. The bullet does NOT drop free when I raise the red handle to point upwards again.

My theory: Could someone have polished it, or used it so much that it wore the texture or hard angles smooth? So then there's no friction to help pull the bullet, but only deformation of the bullet produces something for the collet to grab onto? I'm thinking of roughing up the contact surfaces of the collet. Bad idea?

If not, any other ideas?
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Old September 8, 2019, 11:49 PM   #2
ms6852
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I think you have the cam to tight. Check the video and start at about 4:40.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5mfFD2O0Us
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Old September 9, 2019, 01:30 AM   #3
dyl
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Resolved - sort of

So here is what worked.

I backed out the die a LOT so it was barely grabbing the bullet at a flat section. Then it would release the bullet when I released pressure on the collet.
Before it was taking too deep of a bite on the bullet and not releasing it no matter what. It works, but it's a bit inconvenient because I will have to adjust for different bullet shapes and heights.

ms6852 - yes, I tried backing off pressure on the collet, the projectile would just slip out. But when I backed off on the die a whole lot, it didn't matter if I let big indentations or barely a mark, the bullet would release when I raised the collet lever. Strange, *not* following the directions for once allowed it to function.
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Old September 9, 2019, 08:14 AM   #4
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The collet fingers are a spring. The nose (grasping end) has an angled surface that looks like a large chamfer that is its closing and opening surface. The handle pushes that taper down against a polished surface inside the mouth of the die body. Release of the bullet occurs by the fingers springing outward so that same taper lifts the collet inside the die body. If it is not releasing you need to check two things: The spring operation depends on the inside of the die mouth and the taper on the nose of the collet being smooth and lubricated. You don't want lubrication in the part of the collet that grips the bullet, but the outside surface needs to be lubricated at the taper and up the rest of the outside of the collet so it slides up in the body easily. A thin coat of 30W motor oil works. Grease works. But both those things tend to migrate to the gripping surface over time, though, so I use a Teflon-bearing lube and work the collet for awhile with it to get it into the surface, then blow the collet clean with brake cleaner. This pretty well puts an end to migration but leaves the Teflon in place.

The other thing to check is that raising the handle gives the collet room to pop up into the body. Adjust this by unscrewing the handle until the collet is grasping the bullet when the handle is turned almost to horizontal. If it still doesn't release, remove the case from the shell holder and tap the bottom of the bullet up with a plastic hammer or push it up with the press ram through short length of wood dowel or brass rod. Up inside, the fingers should spring out and let go. If they don't, the collet may have lost some spring. It should rub the die body lightly when you insert it into the body. If it doesn't, the fingers may need to be pried open a little to get some of the spring back, though a new collet is a better solution at that point.

Finally, if the bullets are military or have been seated a long time, they may be hard to pull. It is common practice run old cartridges and those with military sealant through a seating die to push the bullets in just slightly to break any bonding with the case. It then takes a much less dramatic grasp on the bullet to pull it out.
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Old September 9, 2019, 09:10 AM   #5
higgite
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I had the same problem with mine until I got it adjusted properly. The directions that come with it are more of a starting point than a guaranteed-to-work setting. There’s a fine line between too much grip to release the bullet and enough grip to pull it. I have to adjust mine for each different style/brand/profile of bullet, but once set, it runs like clockwork. To get a good grip for pulling but still release the pulled bullet, I usually wind up with it set to where I pull the handle less than 45 degrees from straight up, but firmly. I think I may have lubed it with Hornady One Shot gun cleaner/lube when it was new.
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Old September 9, 2019, 03:41 PM   #6
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I'm surprised you set it up for that shallow angle, but of course, it depends on how hard you push. As it goes toward horizontal, the mechanical advantage is increasing, so it is possible to overdo it, but it's never given me any trouble over this.

To the OP: you can get a sense from this that the feel is going to be individual.
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Old September 9, 2019, 04:24 PM   #7
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I have the same problem with some bullets using it.

I have a pair of those medical angled forceps to reach up and pull out the bullet.
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Old September 16, 2019, 10:07 AM   #8
dyl
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Thanks

It works pretty reliably now, but here's what the instructions *didn't* tell me that I believe to be the most useful.

I was under the impression that the die should be set in such a way that the ram would be raised up all the way before the handle was actuated. Apparently, you just can't do that with most rounds, but 9mm was possible because it's so short. Otherwise, the die would be backed out so much it doesn't have any thread to grab onto. After I tried just raising each round and treating it as an individual case/instance, this allowed for more operation by feel like you all had mentioned. It is a bit of a drag to have to visually look and feel how high you are raising the case, but it still is much faster than a kinetic bullet puller. And it's not that touchy-feely, you can feel (at least in 9mm) when to stop raising the ram because the collet fingers touch the case. Then I hold the ram steady, actuate the puller handle, and it pulls the bullet. If i actually manage to lower the ram a tiny bit before I actuate the puller handle, it takes a shallower bite and drops the bullet free.

Oh yeah, I got a new collet too which may have helped
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Old September 16, 2019, 01:54 PM   #9
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Sounds like you have a handle on it! (Sorry; couldn't resist).

I missed that you were trying to get the ram all the way up. What I've done is bring the ram up and feel for the case mouth meeting the edge of the collet. Depending on the round and collet, you may need the handle partway over to do this.
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